HOLLADAY — At the end of last year, the Olympus boys soccer team was crowned the 4A state champion. Midway through this season, the Titans have found themselves in the middle of the Region 7 pack.
A constant barrage of injuries and a few grade ineligibilities have led to an ever-changing roster, so when the team soundly defeated Hillcrest, 3-0, Friday afternoon and stepped into a three-way tie for second place, head coach Chris Sonntag could not help but smile.
“We’ve had just a really confusing season,” he said after the match. “For the first seven games, I had five or six varsity kids out. It was, 'Who would be on defense this day? And who would be midfield and who would be forward?”
Although they are still missing a few players, the Titans are working their way through the growing pains. They have found a rotation that works well for their style of play, a setup that calls for senior Michael Driggs to move to the front line.
“We were playing him at midfield most of the first half of the season and he’s a dominant striker,” Sonntag said. “That’s been a big change for us.”
Driggs had the first goal Friday for Olympus, attacking the net from the right side of the field to score in the 10th minute.
The second and third goals, scored in the 37th and 74th minutes, respectively, were both scored on penalty kicks. Junior Jair Celis had the first one, recording his first goal of the season, and sophomore Brody Nelson knocked in the second for his second goal this year.
On the defensive end, goalkeeper Kyle Allred worked hard for the shutout, knocking away a handful of shots in the closing minutes.
“Didn’t he do a great job? He’s a sophomore,” Sonntag said. “We’ve just felt comfortable with him. We have two real good goalkeepers but we just felt good about him today, and it was a good choice.”
Spencer Burr and Jaden Olsen also stepped in and played solid for Olympus in place of injured midfielder Mason Earl.
“Here again, our starting center mid, one of the key positions of the field, was out today and may be out for a game or two,” Sonntag continued. “The guys behind him stepped up and that’s kind of been who we are this year.”
The coach credits the boys on the team for regrouping and remaining competitive in spite of the constant changes.
“It’s so easy to drop your head and feel sorry for yourself, and these guys just haven’t done it,” he said. “They’ve stuck with it, and I think we’ve come together at the right time. This was a determination win today.”
In spite of the shuffling roster, the Titans have worked to a region record of 3-3-0, a standing they share with Skyline, a team they lost to in overtime, and Herriman, a team they defeated by one goal. To further confuse the standings, Herriman has already split its games with the Eagles, and Olympus will face both teams again as the season comes to a close. With just two weeks left, Murray (5-0-0) currently stands alone at the top of Region 7.
“We learned last year: It really doesn’t matter to us where we go in,” Sonntag said of the region race. “Whatever comes, we’re fine. That’s how we feel right now.”
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: [email protected]